On the sixth floor. In the first game of the NBA final of 2019, Clay Thompson dissolved the ACL and ended his season. This wound destroyed the hopes of the warriors of a triple race and their dominant and dynastic race. Thompson’s recovery meant he missed the entire 2019-20 season.
The sixth. In May 2020, a short documentary film entitled Over the Waves gave fans a rare glimpse into Thompson’s recovery process. This six-minute short film was conceived and directed by award-winning director Floyd Russ.
Instead of editing training videos, Russ decided to get involved in Thompson’s psychological struggles when he returned to court. The documentary film takes the viewer on a unique journey in the spirit of Thompson through rehabilitation.
Here you can watch a short film:
Director Floyd Russ talked to ClutchPoints about his film and his unique approach to making documentaries.
Kelvin Fong: Can you first tell us how you came to this project and what led you to Klay’s story?
Floyd Russ: I’ve been a big fan of the game since I was a kid and I saw his injury live in last year’s finals. It was a heartbreaking moment, even for a Lakers fan. We’ve seen many stories about physical rehabilitation in the past, but the fact that Clay’s injury was in some ways the last nail in his coffin – perhaps the most epic race a team has ever seen in the history of the NBA – makes this story unique. So when the desk came to me and told me that the focus was on the mind and not the body, I was there because Klay is, of course, the perfect player for that approach.
CF: The documentary about the recovery of a player after an injury often focuses on intensive training and indoor training. But your film rarely goes that way and has a different angle and tone. Why did you choose to focus on the mental aspect of recovery and what prompted you to tell the story from that perspective?
FR : I started talking about it earlier, but stylistically and personally I am much more interested in the psychological perspective of each story. This is where real emotions, motivations and passions come to life. It was about a new step forward and mixing a solid documentary with us – scenes of doctors, gymnastics, PT that really come to Clay Thompson’s mind. In this way our palette extends to surrealistic images in which we see the world as it thinks it is.
CF: I love the way you presented the psychological struggle and I just wanted you to immerse yourself in the way you tried to capture the essence of this spiritual struggle for Klay. I also love your short film Zion, which you directed And there was a video of Zion Clarke himself fighting. In this film there is a scene in which Clay plays against herself. Can you clarify what comes into your thinking process by trying to represent a struggle with yourself to overcome obstacles?
EN: Thanks for noticing. Personally, I believe that the biggest battle we have is not only in the sport, but also with ourselves. In many cases we are the ones who hold back or who have to question ourselves. But the important thing is that Clay wants to be better than before. He doesn’t compare himself to others, he understands that he has to focus on himself more than ever. After all, scorn is the worst thing you can have in a character, to be honest.
CF: You have a water pattern throughout the film. The film starts and ends with water, and in between are many water scenes (water exercises, judging, immersion in water, etc.) What is water and why did you decide to use it as your main motif?
EN: It’s all based on glue. He grew up near the beach and the sea has always been a way for him to concentrate, relax or think. So we wanted to transfer his professional world, as it were, to the world of water therapists and build bridges between them.
CF: Finally – and this is more my question as a fan – what was it like working behind the scenes with Clay Thompson? As fans we always see Klay as this strange, quiet and often cheerful person. What did he work with during this short film?
EN: He’s a film professional, maybe from Space Jam 2, but he understands the team process and we want a lot of work to be done. Very comfortable and cool at work. Actually, you could say he’s SoCal’s. Very good sense of humor, so you can joke with him at any time. His dog and his brother were also on the set and were cooled by the caretaker.